Twitter

Jeanie Buss, Magic Johnson Show Support for Walton

After a period of deafening silence, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and Lakers president of basketball operations Earvin "Magic" Johnson tweeted their support of Lakers coach Luke Walton

After the father of Lonzo Ball, the Lakers' rookie superstar point guard, suggested to ESPN that the coach had lost the locker room, no one in the Lakers' organization came to the coach's defense.

Initially, not giving the outspoken parent attention seemed like a reasonable move.

However, Ball was asked about his father's comments and asked, pointedly, if he liked playing for Lakers coach Luke Walton. The 20-year-old responded, "I'll play for anybody."

If his father's comments were sticks of wood and matches, Ball's response to the question about his coach ignited the fire that followed. Walton referred to the situation as "not ideal" but contended that it did not affect his coaching or what he was trying to do.

Still, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and Lakers president of basketball operations Earvin "Magic" Johnson had not publicly come out in support of their coach, who was riding a nine-game losing streak when Ball's father made his comments.

That same day, the Lakers won. Asked about taking Ball out early, Walton said with a straight expression, "His dad was talking s***, so I took him out early."

Walton quickly said he was joking, and the coach's ability to make light of the awkward situation was admirable. The fact that he had to seemingly handle the public response on his own seemed far less ideal than even the original comments that sparked the media frenzy.

Eventually, Walton got sick of the questions and stated that he wouldn't be speaking about the matter any further and would instead talk about what he was paid to do, i.e. coaching.

But then, ESPN NBA reporter Brian Windhorst went on a radio show and turned the small backyard fire into a potential wildfire when he said that the Lakers organization's muted response had led to front offices around the league thinking Walton's days were numbered and that former Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale was a prime candidate should Johnson, Pelinka and the Lakers make a move on the bench.

"Whatever you want to say about LaVar Ball, he has smoked out the fact that the Lakers do not support Luke Walton," Windhorst said on Rich Eisen's radio show.

Sure, the Lakers had been riding a winning streak and responded to Ball's father's comments with their play on the court, but the radio silence from the organization was sending its own messages about the future of the coach.

That all changed on Saturday.

Ahead of Saturday's game in Dallas, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss tweeted out a picture of her, Walton and Pelinka and included the hashtag "#InLukeWeTrust". The owner has been supportive of the coach and used the same hashtag prior to the comments from Ball's father and the media frenzy that followed, but this was the first public support displayed by the Lakers' organization's decision-makers since Walton's future on the bench had become a national story line.

The Buss family, though, has a publicized principal of doing research to find the best candidate for a job and then allowing that person to, well, do his or her job. As much as Buss' tweet of support meant in that it came from the owner of the Lakers, she hired Johnson to make basketball decisions. Walton's job was a basketball decision, so the opinion that carried the greatest weight was that of Johnson's, who remained silent.

After the Lakers won their fourth game in a row in Dallas, however, Johnson finally took to Twitter and displayed public support for the job Walton was doing. 

"So proud of my @Lakers players and Coach Walton for winning their 4th game in a row against the Mavericks," Johnson tweeted after the victory.

The Lakers' executive followed up with a second tweet, "Coach Luke Walton has the @Lakers playing some of their best basketball of the season right now."

And so, with two tweets, Johnson finally killed the radio silence and supported his coach. Was that so hard? Both tweets made sure to mention Walton, which was no accident. Combined with the support from Buss earlier in the day, one would imagine the Lakers finally dropped water on a fire that desperately needed to be extinguished sooner rather than later.

Note: According to images that appeared on social media, Johnson was in Hawaii on Saturday when a false alert for an incoming missile went out. The Lakers' executive was pictured in a makeshift bomb shelter.

Contact Us